NEWSLETTER – July 2006
Reisa Teitelbaum, President
Steven Slimovitch & Allen Mendelsohn, Editor(s)
Message from the Outgoing President
Dear Colleagues and Honorable Judges:
Le 7 juin 2006, mon mandat à titre de président de L’Association de Droit Lord Reading s’est venu à échéance et un nouveau président assumera dorénavant le leadership de notre Association.
Je suis fier d’annoncer que Me Reisa Teitelbaum sera votre nouvelle présidente. Reisa était active depuis longtemps dans L’Association et s’occupait de différents postes importants telles que présidente du Comité de programmation et Vice-présidente. Elle est qualifiée et est un choix excellent pour assumer la chefferie de notre Association et écrire un nouveau chapitre dans l’histoire de L’Association de Droit Lord Reading. Je souhaite à Reisa et sa nouvelle équipe le meilleur succès et leur offre mon entière collaboration.
I was very fortunate to have an enthusiastic and dedicated Executive to work with this past year. They were always available when the Society and I needed them, and they have my sincere gratitude. Those of the Executive who aspire to leadership of the Society, which I hope includes them all, should know what a privilege and pleasure it has been to be president during this past year. May the Society go from strength to strength.
Message from the New President
Dear Colleagues and Honorable Judges:
It is with great pleasure that I am writing my first President’s message. I look forward the upcoming 2006-2007 season and to working with the new executive, which is as follows:
1st vice president Donald Michelin
2nd vice president Ronald Levy
Treasurer Lawrence Glazer
Financial secretary and Liaison – chambre des notaires Solomon Katz
Recording Secretary Robin Schiller
Membership Hershie Frankel
Programming Mark Schrager
Sponsorship Tibor Hollander
Communications Allen Mendelsohn, Steven Slimovitch
Liaison- bench Justice Israel Mass
Liaison bar Howard Tatner
Liaison- young bar Mara Greenstone, Heather Michelin
Archives Morton Bessner
Human Rights Frank Schlesinger
Liaison- industry Elliot Lifson
International relations David Franklin
Immediate past President Allan Adel
Executive director Morris Chaikelson
Due to the hard work of Allan Adel, his executive and the other active members of the Society, the Society is healthy and vibrant. Membership is strong and participation is high. With the help of the new executive and the other active members of the Society, I look forward to making the coming year a success and to watching the Society grow.
Our opening program of the season, the Alan B. Gold memorial lecture, will take place on September 12 2006. We will have the pleasure of welcoming the Honourable Mr. Justice Marshall Rothstein of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to welcoming you all on September 12, 2006.
THE 2005-2006 SEASON CLOSES ON A HIGH NOTE – Review of the Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture
The Honourable Mr. Justice John Gomery was the highlight of the dinner-meeting on June 7, as the Society closed its season with the annual Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture. While Justice Gomery’s speech entitled “The Pros and Cons of Inquiry Commissions” was the centerpiece of the evening, many other moments were highlights as well.
The evening opened with outgoing President Allan Adel introducing numerous dignitaries and introducing the evening with some nice words about Henry Steinberg. He said that Justice Steinberg was head of his time because he was a natural mediator, before the process of mediation became enshrined in our legal system.
Allan then proceeded to present the Lord Reading Past Presidents’ Medal to Manny Shacter. Outlining the criteria, he said the Medal is awarded to Society members and past presidents who show “excellence in contribution to the community and the highest ethical standards.” Allan outlined nicely how those applied to Me Shacter.
Me Shacter graciously accepted the honour by commenting on Allan’s remarks that “not many people have the opportunity to listen to their eulogy.” He highlighted some interesting stories of the Lord Reading history, including when Herbert Marx commented to him that he never could have imagined the number of Superior Court judges and the batonnier that were Jewish.
After a nice introduction by Jason Caron, Justice Gomery began by saying he doesn’t tell jokes well, but then immediately got a laugh by saying he “doesn’t do well standing up.” There was a small sense of disappointment in the crowd when he said he could not give any “inside dope” on the Gomery Commission considering the three outstanding judicial reviews and the fact he is still a judge. The crowd perked up when he said he would use whatever exceptions he could.
Justice Gomery offered a detailed history of commissions of inquiry. The pros of inquiries include their transparency, and he called then a “significant and useful part” of democracy in Canada. On the negative side, they can be unfair, damaging to witnesses’ reputations, and suffer from a lack of an evidentiary standard.
He then offered up five examples including Westray and Walkerton. He described the inquiries as a “means for Canadians to be appraised of community problems,” and ways to restore public confidence, as the inquiries investigate, educate, and inform. He concluded that they are slow and expensive, but he said that justice should be done whatever the costs, which is a feeling shared by Canadians in general.
A spirited question period followed, including Justice Gomery’s declaration that the biggest surprise about the whole thing was the level of interest of the Canadian public. He also described how he got used to the cameras, even though he still advocates their ban from the courtroom. He was nicely thanked by Claude Haccoun.
The evening concluded with immediate past president Ted Goloff thanking Allan Adel for his fine job over the year, and Allan’s stirring words of thanks. Incoming President Reisa Teitelbaum closed the season with some nice words about the past and the future, and introducing the Lord Reading Executive for 2006-2007.
Review of address by Members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Costs of the Bar of Montreal
At the meeting of the Lord Reading Law Society on April 4th, 2006, the members and guests were treated to a highly stimulating address by the members of the Ad Hoc Committee on costs of the Bar of Montreal, namely Mtres. Mark G. Peacock, Robert P. Charlton and Leonard E. Seidman.
Mtre. Peacock stressed the urgency of reform in the area of costs and the need for this reform to be conducted in a global manner. Mtre. Peacock made the case that the current situation is tantamount to a denial, in many instances, to access to justice commonly thought to be “guaranteed” by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mtre. Peacock pointed out that the status quo is resulting in a precipitous decline in recent years in the volume of matters being brought before our Courts; for example, a decline of 51% before the Superior Court and 39% before the Court of Appeal.
Mtre. Charlton pointed out how the present Tariff of Judicial Fees of Advocates (the “Tariff”) constitutes an unreasonable restriction on the power of the Courts to fairly compensate meritorious parties and victims. Also, Quebec is unique in Canada in this regard.
Mtre. Charlton enlightened the audience on the political difficulties of correcting the problem in that successive governments have felt that the “optics” of increasing the Tariff would amount to “putting more money into lawyers’ pockets” etc. Accordingly, Mtre. Charlton favoured an approach whereby the Courts, rather than the government, would be empowered to correct the problem. The suggestion was made that the Tariff may even be unconstitutional in that it limits the inherent discretionary power of the Superior Court to award the costs of litigation between the parties and which power was held by the Superior Court at the time of Confederation in 1867.
Mtre. Seidman further underscored the inadequacy of the Tariff, pointing out that there has been a 2000% rise in inflation since its adoption in 1920, and that at present, the Tariff represents approximately 5% of its value in 1920. Mtre. Seidman also reviewed various important judicial precedents on the subject, both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada, and concluded that a fundamental reform is required. In particular, he referred to the costs-offer mechanism such as exists in Ontario pursuant to its Rule 49. According to this mechanism, a party who refuses a settlement equivalent to or better than the result obtained by Judgment will be penalized by the award of litigation costs against it, including all or part of the other party’s legal fees.
The main recommendations of the Committee were:
1. The awarding of true litigation costs;
2. The extension of the action in punitive damages to encompass the awarding of extrajudicial fees in appropriate cases;
3. The implementation of incentives to reach reasonable and expeditious settlements; e.g. the cost-offer mechanism; and
4. The adoption of rules to permit the financing of public interest litigation, including interim financing of extrajudicial fees, disbursements and costs of expertise.
A lively question and answer period ensued. The fact that when Mtre. Robin Schiller thanked the speakers, it was almost 10:00 P.M. – conclusively demonstrates the great interest of the members and guests in the topic discussed.
EDITORS’ NOTE – a resolution in support of the report was passed unanimously as modified at the Barreau’s AGM May 13. To read the text of the resolution, please click here.
September 12, 2006
Guest: Hon. Mr. Justice Marshall Rothstein, Supreme Court of Canada
Topic: To be announced
What do you cal a person who intersperses his conversation with Yiddishisms?
– An oyster
An alternative definition for circumvent:
The opening in the front of the boxer shorts worn by some Jewish men.
NEWS FROM THE MISHPAUCHAH
The Lord Reading Law Society would like to extend its sincerest thanks to Stikeman Elliott for having sponsored the June 12th dinner meeting.
The Society expresses its best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to Society Director Leon Jedeiken following his knee replacement surgery.
INVITATION TO ALL
As always, the Newsletter is open to case comments, articles of interest, as well as any other information which may be of relevance to our members. Please communicate directly with Steven or Allen for further information.